Punjab, its name meaning 'Land of Five Rivers', is the richest, most fertile and most heavily populated province
of Pakistan. (Originally the five rivers referred to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas - but the last is now in Indian
Punjab only, so the Indus is now included as Pakistan's fifth river). In Punjab live over 70 million people - more than half
the population of the entire country. Geographically, it is a land of contrasts, from the alluvial plain of the Indus River
and its tributaries to the sand-dunes of the Cholistan Desert, from the verdant beauty of the pine-covered foothills of the
Himalaya to the strangely convoluted lunar landscape of the Potwar Plateau and the Salt Range.
In the 17th century, Lahore became one of the greatest Mughal cities in the subcontinent. A town near Lahore
was the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the 15th century founder of the Sikh religion, and Lahore was the capital from which Maharaja
Ranjit Singh ruled his 19th century Sikh Empire. The British coveted this fertile region, and overthrew the Sikhs in 1849,
annexing Punjab to their Indian dominions, with Lahore as its provincial capital. Finally, it was in Lahore that the All India
Muslim League passed, on 23 March 1940, its Resolution for the Creation of Pakistan.
The best time to visit northern Punjab is in the spring, from February to April, and in the autumn, from September
to November. Southern Punjab is extremely hot in summer, so Multan is at its best in winter, from November to February.